Rajan's Wrong 'un: Only fans can save cricket's future from being mired in the IPL cesspit

Whenever vast sums of money flood into a sport, corruption is a risk

What, to the true lover of our great sport, could possibly be more distressing than the news three professionals with huge followings – including a former Test bowler – have been arrested on suspicion of spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League?

The lethargic, plodding, and incurious initial reaction of the cricket fraternity, who gave a giant shrug of the shoulders, expressed no shock, disdain or conviction whatsoever, and went merrily on their way, plotting how to extract maximum profit from the IPL final between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.

Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandla, and former Test seamer Sreesanth were arrested in Mumbai on 16 May. Of course, they may be cleared of all charges. Yet all the reports and reaction coming out of the sub-continent were full of gloomy and subdued resignation, suggesting this is the tip of a giant iceberg, which was about to melt under the Indian sun and reveal all manner of dastardly practice.

And initially, at least, the authorities did little. News trickled out from the absurd Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) very slowly; horror and disapproval came there none. This is because IPL is on the road to becoming a domain where participants are considered guilty until proven innocent.

At this point, I hope readers will allow me a little leeway in using my own Indian heritage to suggest why the IPL is vulnerable to foul play. There are two main reasons. The first is Indian culture itself. No seasoned observer of this vast and sprawling nation could doubt that corruption plays a central role in a great many administrative enterprises.

Indeed, just over the past few years, an extraordinary telecoms scandal has engulfed the Government, even besmirching the reputation of the heroic Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. At village, district, city, state and national level, bureaucracies abound with backhanders that oil the wheels of work.

Naturally IPL, thrown into this mix, would be prone to the same influences – and this brings us on to the second reason. Whenever vast sums of money flood into a sport, turning it ever more from a game into a business, there is a huge risk of corruption. It's no wonder that Formula One, the most lucrative of sports, was immersed in scandal a few years ago. The more the money, the greater the risk – and with IPL, the sums are vast.

And yet for all that, over recent days it has been possible to espy grounds for genuine hope. "If there is hope," says Winston Smith in George Orwell's 1984, "it lies with the proles." Similarly, if there is hope for IPL, it lies with the fans.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, demonstrators came out across India to vent their fury at the news of the arrests. The scale of the protests took the authorities by surprise – and so jolted them into action. Further arrests were made. Social media frenzies erupted. Statements were issued, and constables put into action. My favourite placard read "BAN INDIA PAISA LOOT LEAGUE". That spells IPLL – but at least the sentiment is right.

It's always a good sign, too, when Rahul Dravid, that great gentleman of modern India, is wheeled out to give his response to the tensions, which he did on announcing his retirement from Twenty20 after losing Friday's semi-final. It shows authorities are taking matters seriously.

The IPL stinks. It resembles a sporting cesspit. But it is also the future of cricket. We have to make it work. Too much is at stake. If there is hope, it lies with the fans.

twitter.com/amolrajan

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future